Syracuse won 34 games and a regular season Big East title last season, but it fell short of the Final Four with a loss to Ohio State in the Elite 8.
With three of their top four scorers (not to mention center Fab Melo) moving on, the Orange will need some players to make the transition from role player to major contributor.
One of those will be junior forward C.J. Fair, who along with new Cleveland Cavalier Dion Waiters was Syracuse’s most consistent option off the bench last season.
The Baltimore native may not have started many games but with an average of 26.4 minutes per contest Fair was one of Syracuse’s most important players.
The question now: can he slide into the starring role opened up by the departure of starting wing Kris Joseph?
Fair hopes to use his experiences at both the Kevin Durant and LeBron James skills academies to his advantage in working towards that goal.
“Yes I’ve moved up to the wing,” said Fair in an interview with NBCSports.com on Saturday afternoon. “Coach [Jim Boeheim] expects a lot out of me this season, and I think I’m ready for that challenge.”
Fair’s already a rather versatile player when it comes to what he’s able to do on the floor.
But his junior campaign will bring along the expanded responsibilities (and opportunities) that weren’t there with the likes of Joseph, Waiters, Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche working on the perimeter.
“The camps have helped me out a lot, especially the Kevin Durant camp,” said Fair. “I learned more about how to get open there, which is important now that I’ll be a focus of the scouting report.”
In two seasons at Syracuse, Fair has shot 49.3% from the field but the three-point percentage of 25.9% is something that he’s working on improving this summer along with his handle.
He’ll get more chances to score, and the workouts and camps this summer will go a long way in making sure that he’s capable of taking advantage.
Fair will also replace Joseph in another department, as he and sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams (“The Mike and C.J. Show”) will take over what was the Syracuse Post-Standard’s “Scoop and Kris Show.”
Syracuse fans hope that the adjustments will happen without any difficulties, and given Fair’s talent there should be little doubt as to whether or not he’s up to the task.